Category: sequoia capital

June 10, 2019 Off

Fiat Chrysler partners with Aurora to develop self-driving commercial vans

By Jill T Frey

Aurora, the autonomous vehicle technology startup backed by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, has struck a deal with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to develop self-driving commercial vehicles.

The partnership will focus on integrating Aurora’s technology into FCA’s line of Ram Truck commercial vehicles, a portfolio that includes cargo vans and trucks. The deal could extend to FCA’s Fiat Professional brand as well, TechCrunch has learned.

The deal with Aurora aims to specifically develop and deploy self-driving commercial vehicles that could be used by any third party with a delivery-to-consumer need. For instance, once Aurora’s technology is integrated into its commercial vans, FCA could sell them to a third-party logistics company — like say, Amazon — that intends to use autonomous vehicles for deliveries.

Neither company disclosed financial terms of the deal.

The high cost of developing and bringing technology such as electrification and autonomous vehicles to market has prompted automakers, including FCA,

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June 8, 2019 Off

Startups Weekly: The Peloton IPO (bull vs. bear)

By Jill T Frey

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the proliferation of billion-dollar companies. Before that, I noted the uptick in beverage startup rounds. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Now, time for some quick notes on Peloton’s confirmed initial public offering. The fitness unicorn, which sells a high-tech exercise bike and affiliated subscription to original fitness content, confidentially filed to go public earlier this week. Unfortunately, there’s no S-1 to pore through yet; all I can do for now is speculate a bit about Peloton’s long-term potential.

What I know: 

  • Peloton is profitable. Founder and chief executive John Foley said at one point that he
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June 8, 2019 Off

A peek inside Sequoia Capital’s low-flying, wide-reaching scout program

By Jill T Frey

Ten years ago, Sequoia Capital began quietly encouraging founders of its portfolio companies to consider which of their founder friends they might like to get behind financially. Sequoia would let them write checks to those companies, and it would share with them any later rewards.

It was a brilliant idea. It allowed Sequoia to keep tabs on entrepreneurs — and nascent technologies — not yet in its universe. It cemented the firm’s ties to the founders who were already in its family. Not last, it grew Sequoia’s already considerable influence in Silicon Valley.

Fast forward, and the ripple effects of the program have not only been wide-reaching, but they’ve quietly reshaped the industry in ways that only those closest to Sequoia have been able to fully appreciate — until now.

To learn more on the tenth anniversary of Sequoia’s “scouts” initiative — which has since been widely copied by other … Read the rest

June 5, 2019 Off

The Stanford connections behind Latin America’s multibillion-dollar startup renaissance

By Jill T Frey

The houses along the tree-lined blocks of Josina Avenue in Palo Alto, with their big back yards, swimming pools and driveways are about as far removed from the snarls of traffic, sputtering diesel engines, and smoggy air of South America’s major metropolises as one can get.

But it was in one of those houses, about a twelve-minute bicycle ride from Stanford University, that the seed was planted for what has become a renaissance in technology entrepreneurship in Latin America.

Back in 2010, when Adeyemi Ajao, Carlo Dapuzzo, and Juan de Antonio were students at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business they could not predict that they would be counted among the vanguard of investors and entrepreneurs transforming Latin America’s startup economy.

At the time, Ajao was negotiating the sale of his first business, the Spanish social networking company, Tuenti, to Telefonica (in what would be a $100 million exit). Carlo Dapuzzo … Read the rest

June 4, 2019 Off

Aurora’s head of product is coming to TC Sessions: Mobility

By Jill T Frey

Self-driving car startup Aurora might be as buzzy as they come. The company raised more than $530 million just a few months ago in a round led by Sequoia Capital, and with “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates. We’ve learned Aurora isn’t shy about using that capital, with two acquisitions in the books.

But how, when and where will Aurora’s autonomous vehicle technology end up? Lia Theodosiou-Pisanelli, who leads product development and program management for all of Aurora’s partnerships, will join us onstage at TC Sessions: Mobility to give us the scoop.

Theodosiou-Pisanelli has had an up-close view of the autonomous vehicle industry. Prior to joining Aurora this spring, she was director of business development for Lyft’s self-driving technology business, Level 5.

Her background in global government relations at Square, as well as a U.S. Trade Representative at the White House, gives Theodosiou-Pisanelli insight into how … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

Password manager Dashlane raises $110M in Series D, adds CMO

By Jill T Frey

Password manager maker Dashlane has raised $110 million in its latest round of funding, the company said Thursday.

The company said Sequoia Capital led the Series D round, with partner Jim Goetz joining the board. Dashlane also said Lyft executive Joy Howard was appointed as its new chief marketing officer and will start in August.

Dashlane said it will invest its latest funds back into its core product and will focus on addressing the needs of its consumer and business customers.

Chief executive Emmanuel Schalit said the company is “only scratching the surface” of its security opportunities.

“Billions of people and millions of businesses around the world feel the pain of digital identity — from breaches to stolen identities and the nuisance of remembering passwords,” said Schalit.

“With this new capital and the addition of Joy to our leadership team, we have the resources to increase our product leadership, grow … Read the rest

May 29, 2019 Off

How to trigger FOMO among VCs, plus PMs, SoftBank, and cheese

By Jill T Frey

Fundraising 101: How to trigger FOMO among VCs

Our media columnist Eric Peckham talked to a variety of successful founders on how they generate FOMO (i.e. fear of missing out) among VCs during their fundraises. While having a great deck and story is key to startup success, clearly there is also a bit of the dark arts required to go from intro email to term sheet.

We focused on a two-week period and set all the meetings for Thursday and Friday. From 7am into the evening, back-to-back pitches at all the firms in one area then the next area. That’s because partner meetings are on Mondays, so the Thursday and Friday conversations would lead to pitching the whole partnership the following Monday. We had a 24-hour rule: if we didn’t hear back from a fund in 24 hours, we crossed them off the list.

and

According to this CEO, Sequoia

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May 29, 2019 Off

Fundraising 101: How to trigger FOMO among VCs

By Jill T Frey

Let’s go beyond the high-level fundraising advice that fills VC blogs. If you have a compelling business and have educated yourself on crafting a pitch deck and getting warm intros to VCs, there are still specific questions about the strategy to follow for your fundraise.

How can you make your round “hot” and trigger a fear of missing out (FOMO) among investors? How can you fundraise faster to reduce the distraction it has on running your business?

“You’re trying to make a market for your equity. In order to make a market you need multiple people lining up at the same time.”

Unsurprisingly, I’ve noticed that experienced founders tend to be more systematic in the tactics they employ to raise capital. So I asked several who have raised tens (or hundreds) of millions in VC funding to share specific strategies for raising money on their terms. Here’s their advice.

(The … Read the rest

May 23, 2019 Off

Fresh off a $530M round, Aurora acquires lidar startup Blackmore

By Jill T Frey

Aurora, the self-driving car startup backed by Sequoia Capital and Amazon, is in an acquiring mood. The company, founded in early 2017 by Chris Urmson, Sterling Anderson and Drew Bagnell, announced Thursday that it acquired lidar company Blackmore.

The Blackmore purchase follows another smaller, and previously unknown, acquisition of 7D Labs that occurred earlier this year, TechCrunch has learned. 7D, founded by former software engineer from Pixar animation Magnus Wrenninge, is a simulation startup that makes photorealistic synthetic data sets for street scenes. Aurora confirmed the acquisition.

Aurora’s larger Blackmore acquisition comes on the heels of its $530 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital and “significant investment” from Amazon and T. Rowe Price Associates. Aurora did not disclose the terms of the deal.

Lidar, or light detection and ranging radar, measures distance. It’s considered by many in the emerging automated driving industry — with the exception … Read the rest

May 17, 2019 Off

Australia’s design unicorn, Canva, picks up two free image-sharing services, and launches new photo product

By Jill T Frey

Canva, the design and publishing platform taking on Adobe, PowerPoint and others, has acquired the free stock image providers Pexels and Pixabay and launched a new subscription service for its premium image marketplace, Photos Unlimited.

Taken together, the new strategic moves represent a concerted effort by the company to add more graphic options to its design toolkit.

“With over 1 million images downloaded over 500 million times on their platforms combined, both Pexels and Pixabay have proven that there is a huge demand for free, quality content from small businesses, social media marketers and others — not just from designers and companies with big budgets,” said Canva chief executive Melanie Perkins, in a statement.

Perkins declined to disclose how much Canva spent on the two stock image services.

As a result of the acquisition, Canva users will have access to Pexels and Pixabay’s images through the Canva platform … Read the rest